We live in a high-pressure world, and we want our children to be successful. These days, it seems like kids have to be athletes, play an instrument, be involved in community service and excel in school just to be “average.”
Many adults struggle with the desire to be good parents. You may want to provide your kids with opportunities you didn’t have and give them a chance to be the best they can be. However, in the process, you may:
- Experience a lot of stress.
- Feel that you don’t communicate with your children as much as you would like to, or about the things that you should.
Explore how to balance stress and success while making a commitment to communicate more with your children. Try the activities below to get your mind thinking about your children, and then go talk to them.
Activity A – What Stresses Your Children?
1. Get a piece of paper and draw a line down the center. Only write on one side.
- Write down five things that you think cause your child stress, in order of how much stress they cause. It’s likely that some answers involve stress from trying to do too much. (That’s not rocket science – kids’ lives mirror ours.)
- Did you happen to write down “parents”? Unfortunately, parents often cause kids stress by being too pushy or nosy, or by putting too much pressure on kids.
2. After you finish writing, fold the paper and ask your child fill in the other half by writing down their biggest stressors. Then compare answers. The process will make for an interesting conversation.
Activity B – Quality Time
1. Write down the last time that you just hung out with your child—not washing dishes, folding laundry, shopping or anything else—just hanging out listening to music, watching clouds or the ocean, or talking.
- Research suggests that family time should be as important as education, athletics, community service, music, dance, social activities and other outside commitments.
- Kids need time to talk with parents, as well as some unstructured time each day to “process” what they are learning.
- Preteens and teenagers also need about 10 hours of sleep each night.
2. You can help reduce stress by spending time with your child. Shoot hoops, read, cook, talk, sit, walk, play cards, anything.
- This time tells children that you find them interesting and worthwhile, which will boost their self-esteem.
- This is also the prime time that kids will ask parents questions.
3. Make a list of ways to give more time to your children.
- Don’t be disheartened if you try a few ideas and they’re duds. Just keep trying – your children will appreciate the effort.
- A big bonus is that hangout time is relaxing for you, too.
- Remember, when weighing the value of the time you spend, hanging out together is important for opening up communication. It may take a while before they talk, but they will.